Synopses & Reviews
Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.
The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.
Like Brooks's beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.
“As lyrical and passionate a novel as has ever been written, A Different Sun
shines in the mind like a rare gem… A memorable and altogether original story.”—Lee Smith, New York Times
bestselling author of Fair and Tender Ladies
and The Last Girls
“A magnificent novel that explores the charged juncture between nineteenth-century Africa and the slaveholding South. This is the spellbinding, richly imagined story of missionaries Emma and Henry Bowman—inspired by historical figures—and the remarkable people they encounter on their transformative journey. Although A Different Sun might be seen as an Out of Africa for the twenty-first century, Orr’s is an original and important new voice in American fiction.”—Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Plum Wine and Butterfly’s Child
“For anyone who has been waiting for a writer to imagine the white traveler to Africa from an altogether different angle, here is Elaine Neil Orr’s brilliant novel. It goes to the heart. It goes to the bone. You won't be able to put it down.”—Peggy Payne, author of Sister India and Revelation
“An important book, one which unflinchingly explores tensions between Christianity and African religions, slavery and freedom, madness and love.”—Wayne Caldwell, author of Cataloochee and Requiem by Fire
“A powerful exploration of ‘correctness of principle’…a sharp statement about morality… an exploration of love and true goodness…A beautiful novel, exquisitely written, perfectly complex, true to the past, relevant today, unforgettable.”—Philip F. Deaver, author of Silent Retreats, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction
“Extraordinary… grips the imagination and doesn’t let go. Here is rendered as fierce a spirituality as anything you can read in Dostoevsky. This is a book of high adventure with life and death stakes both for the body and the soul. It has a penetrating authenticity that will make your hair stand on end.”—Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Ahab’s Wife and Four Spirits
A New York Times
bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author.
Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.
About the Author
Geraldine Brooks is the author of Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, stationed in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East.